The Cost Of Talent


Clockwise from top left: Graham Norton, Ryan Tubridy, John Humphreys and Seán O’Rourke

‘eoin’ writes

In the UK (population 65m, 13x Ireland), the BBC publishes the list of staff paid £150,000+ (€168,000) a year in the year to April 2019 (that is, for a period which ended three months ago)….

John Humphrys, a titan of broadcasting whose daily 3-hour radio show gets around 5m listeners is paid £290,000 (€325,000)

In Ireland, Sean O’Rourke was paid €308,964 by loss-making RTE in the year to December 2016.

Meanwhile, Graham Norton only gets £610,000 while the mediocrity on the loss-making RTE Late Late Show gets €495,000 (excluding royalties on his book which exploits the Toy Show “jumper” thing)?

Also if the BBC can publish presenter salaries within 3 months of the year end, why does it take loss-making RTE 22 months?

Here’s the full list of BBC on-air stars earning over £150,000

BBC pay: Claudia Winkleman, Zoe Ball and Vanessa Feltz among top earners (BBC)

Related: Vanessa Foran: Reeling In The Year

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44 thoughts on “The Cost Of Talent

  1. Ronan

    If you’re going to compare like for like, what about Gary Lineker (about €2m) versus Joanne Cantwell (Sunday Game) or Michael Lyster before her (who wasn’t in the top 10 so was on less than €185K). Also in the interest of a like for like comparison, it should be noted that Tubridy broadcasts 5 days a week (7 hours of on-air time), versus Norton’s 2 days a week (4 hours of on-air time). And while I think Graham Norton wipes the floor with Tubridy, the Late Late Show goes out live, and one would imagine there’s a premium for presenting a live show versus a pre-recorded show as a presenter.

    1. Mezcal

      They are still paid WAY TOO MUCH. WAAAAAAAAY TOOOO MUUUUUCH. But they are useful idiots I suppose.

      1. Ronan

        I don’t dispute that. But I thin that selective comparisons couched as a like-for-like analysis, but which aren’t really, should be called out. Otherwise we might as well all go full #fakenews on everything.

          1. Bodger

            Papi, eoin is not above criticism but gets a lot of unwarranted stick for seemingly no reason. He freely shares often brilliant analysis and provides a real service to the site.

          2. Papi

            Analysis or copy and paste? Serious question.
            Often or constant?
            Unwarranted or capable of dealing with without protection?

          3. Ronan

            @Bodger I didn’t realise eoin is a broadsheet regular or that he gets a lot of stick, but my criticism is not “unwarranted”, in the same way that his particular piece of analysis here is not “brilliant”.

    2. fFs

      It’s the BBC compared to RTE – There should be the gigantic gap there is, as you’ve mentioned between Gary Lineker and Michael Lyster. A world class sports star, amazing pundit and a-lister celebrity vs journalist who started writing a music column for the Tuam Herald. fFs
      The fact that this gigantic gap isn’t across the board in EVERY category is the whole fupping point!

    1. Qwerty123

      Yes, the narrative didn’t fit for Eoin once he delved, but that didn’t stop him, bless…

  2. newsjustin

    If we didn’t pay Sean O’Rouke that figure he’d be snapped up by competitors and UK media titans like BBC Radio Derbyshire.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Out of all the Tier 1 RTE broadcasters, the only one any good imo is Pat Kenny (great on radio, brutal on TV). Still doesn’t justify RTE’s pay rates in a country where there is a massive salary gap and virtually no benchmarking. No point in comparing with BBC either – different country, different population.

      1. Rob_G

        I mean, it’s funny that you chose Kenny as an example, but he was indeed snapped up by a commercial rival the minute RTÉ cut his salary.

          1. Rob_G

            I’ve no idea. I just remember being very skeptical at the time myself that any Irish presenter would really get a better deal than what they were on at RTÉ. But within like a month of the salary cuts being announced, Kenny was indeed induced to jump ship to a rival commercial station.

          2. italia'90

            Lord Haw Haw of Dalkey doesn’t come cheap!

            Proper journalism died in Ireland a couple of decades ago.
            It’s almost all propaganda now for one corporatist entity or another.

            Serious question.
            When was the last time you heard a proper socialist(politians excluded) on drivetime radio or on a discussion panel?
            Is there even one who’s a regular guest on Irish TV/Radio?

          3. eoin

            Pat Kenny Media Services Limited doesn’t show how much Pat is now paid but based upon its profit and assuming no expenses, I estimate Pat is getting around €350k a year, and that may include fees earned outside Newstalk (eg from Virgin, MC-ing, etc).

            RTE was paying him €950k at peak and €630k when he left RTE in 2013.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          So? That cut the RTE wage bill if anything, plus his show remains on Dinnytalk – so it was a win-win for all parties. It doesn’t matter what he’s paid there because it’s not our money. The message of this post is that RTE presenters are overpaid – and its not benchmarked nor performance related. Maybe it is all about bargaining and toy-throwing.

          1. Rob_G

            “That cut the RTE wage bill if anything, plus his show remains on Dinnytalk – so it was a win-win for all parties.”

            – if a chunk of Kenny’s audience followed him to newstalk, then it certainly wasn’t a win for RTÉ.

            “The message of this post is that RTE presenters are overpaid” – I don’t necessarily disagree with you. But…

            ” – and its not benchmarked nor performance related.” – if Kenny was able to get a higher salary at NT, then this is indeed a benchmark.

  3. Zaccone

    RTE should have a salary cap of €200k. Thats still a great salary, particularly for doing a prestige/interesting/creative job that people love to do.

    If any of the presenters want to chance their arms and see if they can get more elsewhere they’re more than welcome to – its unlikely the BBC will be chomping at the bit to recruit lots of them. And even if some of them do move abroad, there is more than enough young Irish talent waiting to replace them.

    1. newsjustin

      Yeah. Always got Lottie Ryan and Abie Philbin Bowman and others.

      Once RTE staff continue having babies, we’ll always have a supply of quality broadcasters.

    2. Col

      I’m all for this. Decent salary and I presume they make additional money from private functions, after dinner speeches, book deals etc.

  4. Jake38

    How have we got so far down this thread with no mention of “Wheezy” Finnucane and the cash she rakes in for her dreck?

    Are RTE just paying her in oxygen now?

  5. eoin

    RTE is loss-making, it lost €13m in 2018, €6m in 2017 and €19m in 2016 (the first year when Dee Forbes was in charge). RTE had a small surplus in 2013 and 2014.

    The BBC is not loss-making.

    Dee Forbes appears incapable of cutting RTE’s cloth according to its means. (And BTW Dee, I fully expect there will be a state aid complaint after Denis Naughten’s €9m a year gift to you the day before he was fired last year).

    1. eoin

      Thanks V, that was some piece of work on your part.

      Bottom line, RTE can’t manage its budget.

      1. ReproBertie

        State agencies don’t believe in budgets. There’s always more money in the tax pot.

  6. Hector Ramirez

    If you want to benchmark anything, bench mark the licence fees. UK £154 ireland €160… the bbc offers way more for theirs. 3/4 tv channels, a comprehensive website, 6/7 national radio stations, countless regional radio stations,an iPlayer (that actually works) serious dramas, sport and documentary’s.
    We get Tubridy, Catherine Thomas and Ray Darcy…

    1. Rob_G

      Given that the UK’s population is 13 times’ bigger than Ireland, we would need to set the licence fee at about €2k if we wanted to have a comparable output…

      1. Hector Ramirez

        And considering Ireland population is 13 less than UK, surely it’s stars should be commensurate with this fact…

  7. The Dude

    Interesting appraisal by Eoin.

    Ireland has roughly the same size population as Birmingham; I wonder how much the presenters of BBC Birmingham get paid?

    There seems to be quite a difference in style between radio interviewers here, and those across the water. When a politician comes is interviewed by John Humphries or Jon Snow, questions tend to be probing; whereas when a politician is interviewed here, questioning tends to be much more meek and overly respectful in tone. One style allows the public to see politicians’ stances to be interrogated – while the other allows the politician to generally push their view without fear of follow-up probing. And so consensus is manufactured.

    For a long time there has been a certain amount of fiscal promiscuousness between certain members of RTE staff and private business interests. This can give rise to a perception of conflict of interests – which is why the BBC does not let its staff do separate corporate and other gigs. RTE should do the same, or at the very least, where there employees conduct other jobs based on the public profile created through RTE, these should be declared publicly.

    Here’s a piece on Irish media that may be of further interest.

    1. V

      there is actually a whole suite of CoI breeches going on within RTÉ
      From the very top with the Chair
      right down into every production dept
      And ultimately flowing, like pollution, into its output,
      Which is actually its remit and therefore completely compromised at every level
      The behavior should be enough to deny them fit to have a powerful statutory tool like the TV Licence
      When you wonder and gasp as the levels of self entitlement within certain cohorts
      Politicians, Wealth, Broadcasters, Protected Ranks within the Public Service,
      It can all be routed back to Montrose

      If ye think I’m exagerating – think again
      I am actually holding back

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